I went to Harvest "University" in Chicago last week. The purpose of my visit was to sit through the elder learning track. I have been attempting to think about the development of our elders team and thought that sitting, listening, and discussing for a couple of days would be the best way to come to some conclusions about our situation here at OBC. The two days were helpful. I am thankful that one of our elders went with me. That made it even that much more enjoyable.
The learning was good but what was even more fun was finding out what the hotel staff thought of Willow Creek and Harvest. Two mega churches within short driving distance is amazing and the two campuses and approaches to ministry could not be more different (even with recent changes at Willow). James and Rick (founding pastors) are my good friends and I am sure they will get a "kick" out of learning what the hotel staff where we were staying knew about Harvest.
When we arrived at the Holiday Inn we needed to find directions to Harvest. I asked one of the hotel staff if she knew where Harvest Bible Chapel was. She did not but went to ask her manager. Upon returning the manager said she did not know the location but with radio in hand contacted one of the shuttle drivers. She then proceeded to ask the driver if he knew where Willow Creek was. I, as a good Canadian and not wanting to offend my American Harvest friends, promptly corrected her and said, "no not Willow Creek but Harvest Bible Chapel". Her response was a Master Card moment, "priceless". She said, "they are the same thing aren’t they?"
It was both a hilarious and instructional moment. I could imagine in those brief seconds those at Harvest rolling their eyes with thoughts of "are you kidding we aren’t anything like Willow". I wanted to tell this story to James and Rick but chose distance for means of safety (lol). The more I have thought about it, however, the comment is instructional. For most who are not into church the two mega churches are just really the same thing. They don’t care to know or don’t see the philosophical or theological differences. Whether we speak as one voice or not many perceive that to be the case.